Soulless by Gail Carriger – Parasol Protectorate #1

Going into this novel, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that the premise contained all of my favorite things: supernatural beings, the Victorian era, and a feisty heroine. That was enough to intrigue me and give this book a shot. After reading it, I am so glad I did. Here is my review:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. Unfortunately, Alexia accidentally kills the vampire while protecting herself – and the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. News on this vampire’s death leads to an investigation that reveals that unexpected vampires are appearing and expected vampires are disappearing. And everyone seems to believe that Alexia is somehow involved. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy?

To define this book by one genre would be doing it an injustice because it is such a mashup! You’ve got steampunk, Victorian social etiquette, comedy, romance, and of course, supernatural/paranormal fantasy. I loved this eclectic mix of themes because it added so much variety to the story! I absolutely adored Alexia. She is funny, and inquisitive, and everything I wanted her to be! She adheres to Victorian etiquette standards only when it suits her and her independent thinking gets her into a great deal of trouble. I love that the author always keeps her in the center of the action and never makes her rely on men to fix things for her. I also loved her romance with Lord Maccon, which I had guessed would happen right from the start; it is VERY believable and not exactly pg-13 (so I would advise younger teenagers to not read this book). The story itself was intriguing, with witty humor thrown in every now and then. I liked the mystery and the action, and the different supernatural beings who were involved. If anything, I wish the organization of the different societies had been given more details, as that would have given me a better understanding of this world that Alexia lives in. I had a great reading experience with this novel because I just found it to be so funny and interesting that I couldn’t put it down. I’m giving it a 5/5 stars for being weird and funny and everything else in between!

Happy reading ~

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The Ninth Circle: Fire by C.A. Harland

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What drew me to this novel was the beautiful cover design and the fact that it features females as the protagonists. I love fantasy and supernatural novels that have strong females in them, and this one seemed like one of them. Here is my review:

Tala Morgenstern has grown up hunting demons. Her family are all Nightwalkers, and it is their duty to protect humans from supernatural beings. But when her younger sister, Hartley, disappears while looking for her long-lost father, Tala must reach out to her other sister, Aiva. Aiva is the only Morgenstern who has turned her back on the underworld … but the underworld hasn’t forgotten about her. Reluctantly, Aiva agrees to help Tala track down Hartley. But as they investigate, they discover that there is something more sinister at hand. Now, they must make their way to the depths of the demon stronghold to save Hartley … before she can be claimed by hell.

If the TV show Supernatural had female protagonists and was in book format, this would be it. I used to be a big fan of the show, and I have to say that the similarities are uncanny. Both deal with family members who have gone missing on a “hunting” trip, and involve siblings coming together to discover the truth and fight supernatural creatures along the way. There are some unique elements, like the fact that Aiva can scry and make protection spells, but not much else. Was this an interesting read? Yes. It was fast-paced and action-packed. However, it was just too similar to the show for me to appreciate it as its own unique entity. Even the characters themselves resembled the Winchester brothers. And while I have no problems with authors being influenced by other ideas/stories, this was a little too much for me. Since it was still written well and exciting, I’m going to give this a 2/5/5 stars, rounded up to 3.

Happy reading ~

What The Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel has taken me a long time to read. But not because it was bad. I’ve had so many interruptions in my life that I haven’t even been able to think about the word book. But I’ve slowly been chunking my time and getting in a chapter or two …. and it’s finally done! So here is my review:

Dave, John, and Amy have taken it upon themselves to get the story straight and tell a fairly simple tale of a shape-shifting creature from another dimension that has been stealing kids and brainwashing their parents. However, it soon becomes clear that everything being revealed is not the truth. Someone is lying, and that someone is the narrators. The novel itself is a cover-up, and the “true” story reveals itself through the cracks of this funny but depraved story with contradicting and convoluted narratives.

I didn’t know that this novel was part of a series. And it really didn’t matter because I was able to follow along fine without having had read anything before this one. This was one of the most entertaining reads I have ever had the opportunity to read. It was an absolutely perfect mix of horror and comedy, that is both a mess and a genius work at the same time. I loved all of the characters and their unique narratives and perspectives. The story is honestly so wild and bizarre, which at first took me by surprise, but I began to really love that style. Random characters are introduced, random events happen, and since these events are told from multiple perspectives, you never really know if what you are reading is true or false. It makes your head spin but it also keeps you hooked! I am so glad I took my time with this book because it just allowed me to savor it so much longer! I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something unique, something dark and funny, and something that will drive you insane while also make you crave more! I am definitely going to go back and start the series from the beginning! 5/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

Owl and the Electric Samurai by Kristi Charish

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I began to read this novel, I had no idea that it was part of a series. I wish I had known because it would have explained away a lot of the confusion I was feeling when I was reading. Anyways, here is my review:

Owl is an antiquities thief who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. And she is in for another adventure. The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is responsible for keeping all things supernatural hidden… but they are also the ones responsible for ruining Owl’s archaeology career. Needless to say, Owl’s still a little sore about that. But now, the IAA has a bounty out for the 2 designed of World Quest, an online RPG that is a whole lot more than it seems. Owl needs to find the gamers before the other mercenaries do … but when every clue points to them hiding in the legendary lost city of Shangri-La. Not only does Owl have to deal with competitors, she also finds herself dragged into a game of wits with someone who calls himself the Electric Samurai. The stakes are high, especially when losing means an all-out civil war between 2 powerful supernatural factions.

I felt that I was really at a disadvantage when it came to this novel because of my lack of knowledge on this series and the characters. There was a lot going on and not everything made sense. You definitely need to read this series in order in order to really understand and appreciate all that is going on. I’ve decided not to rate this book or post my review on Goodreads because I don’t think any of my comments would be a fair assessment of this novel since I didn’t do my due diligence and read this series properly. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of this series or is looking to start a new urban fantasy/supernatural series!

Happy reading ~

Visions by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #2

It’s been a while since I read Omens by this author but I really enjoyed that foray into urban fantasy. I hadn’t planned on waiting so long to read the sequel but … life … happens. Anyways, I finally got around to it so here is my review:

In Omens, Olivia Taylor-Jones discovers that she is the daughter of notorious serial killers. She finds an ally in Gabriel Walsh, a selfish, morally ambiguous lawyer. Together, they were able to find a devious killer and partially cleared Olivia’s parents from their crimes. Their success, however, doesn’t last long. While Olivia continues to take refuge in Cainsville, Gabriel’s past comes back to haunt both of them.

When Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed just like her, she is shocked. What makes it worse is that the body disappears before anyone else sees it. Olivia is convinced it’s another omen. But when she learns that a real young woman went missing just a few days ago, it makes Olivia question whether the body she saw was just a simple omen – or a message. Who would have left this kind of warning and why? As Olivia tries to uncover the truth, she finds herself in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces that have their own agenda and secrets.

It took me a while to get into this novel because I couldn’t really remember what had happened. But after just a chapter or two, everything started to fall into place. It helped that the author provided recaps of important events from the first book to help set the tone for this novel. Again, we are thrown into a murder mystery that has some supernatural elements to it. I liked that the novel actually managed to answer some of the underlying questions that I had had from before. She also added a whole host of new elements that led to more questions. I will say that there is a whole new level of romance seen in this book that I was not expecting so …. readers be prepared! The dynamic between Olivia and Gabriel gets better in this novel and you really start to admire their witty friendship. One of the things that made me really happy about this novel is that the supernatural elements of the story were a lot more visible, even though it still maintained its main murder mystery plot; what drew me to the series in the first place was a promise of fantasy, and the author definitely delivered on that account. Overall, this is a novel filled with intrigue, supernatural forces, and an interesting murder mystery. If you liked Omens, you will definitely enjoy Visions!

Happy reading ~

Hell’s Doctor by Lee F. Jordan

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m always in search for the next great thing in horror. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find good horror stories these days. I know Stephen King is the King of Horror but for some reason, I’ve always found it hard to get into any of his stories. I will definitely give Stephen King another go this year, but until then, I’m going to look for what else is out there. I was quite excited to receive this novel from NetGalley…. so here is my review:

With the latest death, Hell gets a new Doctor, one who is utterly without remorse. Best – or perhaps, worst – of all, he knows the secrets of the portal. As he is pitted against vicious serial killers and psychopaths, he is determined to gain access to the portal. “There are only three kinds of pain: physical, such as cutting through the bone marrow of a prisoner’s leg with a dull hacksaw; emotional, such as torturing a prisoner’s family slowly; or psychological, which destroys the hope of the mind.” – Hell’s Doctor Edict

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish this novel. It just made no sense. The author’s writing style made it really confusing to follow along with the action, and there was a constant change-up of characters that added to the confusion. The descriptions of the setting weren’t enough for me to understand the world that was being created. Overall, I just felt like I had stumbled into something that was half-baked. Like I mentioned, I didn’t finish this novel; maybe it gets better as you go along! However, I’m just going to pass on this one.

Happy reading ~

 

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

I love Ami McKay. Pretty much every book I have read by her has been thought-provoking, and intense. I expected no less of this novel of hers. I was especially excited by the magic angle; I’m going through a fantasy/supernatural phase right now so this was perfect timing for me!

1880 is a dangerous time for women. In Manhattan, there are many on the lookout for witches, and any intelligent woman (witch or no) who speaks her mind is in danger of being accused of witchcraft. During times like these, Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St. Clair set up their tea shop, where they cater to the elite ladies of Manhattan, in the form of tea… as well as through palmistry and potions. Their shop is heavily frequented as both Adelaide and Eleanor are known for their discretion. All is well until one bright September day when a young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at the shop looking for employment. Beatrice soon wins over Eleanor and becomes a valuable apprentice, but Beatrice’s new life is filled with strange occurrences, especially once it becomes clear that she can see and hear things that no one else can. Has she somehow gained magical skills or is she simply losing her mind? Eleanor wants to air on the side of caution but Adelaide sees this as a wonderful new business venture. However, things go awry quickly and Beatrice is put in danger. In a time when being a woman is the most dangerous thing in the world, will these three witches survive?

As usual, the story was spell-binding and filled with wonderful intricate details. I really liked how the author had newspaper articles and pamphlets inserted into the story to help build the setting up. This is a very feminist-oriented novel that sheds light on the plight of women in the 1800s, during a time when being forthright and asserting one’s rights were frowned upon. The blend of history with magic was masterfully done and quite enjoyable to read. I did find that the story moved at a slower pace than what I am used to by this author, but the tension was palpable throughout and it kept me going all the way until the end. There were certain story plots that I felt could have been explored in greater depth, but overall this story was very good, and I was pleased with my experience! Here’s to more novels by Ami McKay!

Happy reading ~

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones – Charley Davidson #11

I received this novel from NetGalley as an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

When I received this book, I had no idea that it was part of a series. I have never read anything by Darynda Jones, and other than knowing that this story had supernatural elements to it, I had no clue what to expect. While I struggled to get through this novel, let it be known that it was because of my lack of knowledge rather than the actual story, which was quite entertaining! Here is my review:

Charley Davidson works as a part-time PI and a full-time Grim Reaper. Her typical day involves cheating husbands, locating missing people…. and dealing with demons, evil gods, and lots and lots of dead people. Charley’s life is tumultuous to say the least … and it doesn’t seem to be getting any less so! Charley is trying to embrace her new identity as a goddess with all sorts of interesting powers, while also realizing that her daughter has been born to save the world from complete destruction. However, the forces of hell are determined to see Charley banished to the darkest corners of another dimension. Thankfully, Charley has the son of Satan on her side, as her husband and amazing lover. Maybe this time, Charley can finally have her very own happy ending.

As I mentioned before, I have not read a single book in the series. Let me warn future readers by saying that this is not a novel you can just pick up in random order. To get the best experience, you need to start at the beginning and see the story through to the end. Since I don’t have the time to do that, I can’t really comment too much on how well this story stands up when compared to its predecessors. With that being said, I CAN comment on the writing style and story flair, both of which were fantastic! The author’s writing style reminded me a lot of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich; it is funny and action-packed! Charley is a hilarious character who is both shallow and genuine at the same time. I liked her spunky attitude and her overall behaviour in every scene. The way the story opened up caught my attention right away, and even as I struggled to get through with my lack of background knowledge, I couldn’t help but admire the storytelling itself. I definitely wish I had read the previous books in this series because they seem like they would be a lot of fun! If you are looking for a new urban fantasy series with a good dose of romance and humor, check this one out! But like I said, start with book 1!

Happy reading ~

Blood Divine by Greg Howard

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

YAY VAMPIRES!!!! As usual, I got super excited when I read the blurb for this novel. Vampires and witches and biblical connections… it’s got everything I’ve ever wanted all rolled into one. And if you haven’t already noticed, I read a lot of fantasy/paranormal/science fiction stories! So here is my review:

Cooper Causey has spent his entire life trying to stay away from his hometown in South Carolina, with its demons and supernatural forces. As it is, it’s all he can do to control his own powers that resides deep within him. But when his grandmother leaves a panicked voicemail to Cooper, he knows he must return. And when he does, it is only to discover that his childhood home is empty – his grandmother is now missing. As Cooper searches for her, he uncovers the truth behind his peculiar ancestry and finds himself a pawn in the middle of an ancient war between two supernatural forces. And the only way to protect those he loves is to embrace his own dark powers and choose the “right” side in this epic battle.

This novel has received a great deal of positive reviews, which, frankly, I’m quite surprised by. It isn’t that this novel is terrible … but I didn’t think it was very good either. The story was fast-paced…. a bit too fast-paced, in my opinion. Things were happening so quickly and not enough of a background was being established. There was just a very simple summary of the existence of these two supernatural races; I felt that there could have been more detail, more discovery about the origins and just a little bit more time for the reader to digest all of the connections. While it was still interesting, the origin seemed too simplistic for me to enjoy.

The main character was funny and foolhardy and definitely in love with his childhood friend. I didn’t mind any of those things. What I did mind was the constant reference to these powers that he apparently has had since he was a child, which he has kept hidden. There were very brief mentions of how it manifested in his childhood, and throughout the entire story, any mention of his abilities made me feel like I was missing out on some crucial detail that everyone else seemed to know.

I love reading about different characters. But there is such a thing as too many characters, especially when they are all thrown into the mix helter-skelter. With every forward movement in the story, there were other characters being introduced. And because of the fast pace and the barrage of new personas, I felt like I didn’t really get a deeper look into each character. Maybe that’s what the author wanted, maybe it was meant to just be taken at face value with nothing deeper going on, but I prefer my characters to have more to them than just what meets the eye.

Overall, this novel overwhelmed me with its rapid pace and its cast of characters. It underwhelmed me with its lack of depth in origin stories and its simplistic and stereotypical plot twists. If you are looking for a quick supernatural story with lots of action, then check this novel out. But if it is depth you want, then look somewhere else.

Happy reading ~

 

 

The Arranged Trilogy by Julia Crane

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is unusual in that it is a set of novellas that have come together in one book. I read the premise of this trilogy and was immediately intrigued, so I was happy to receive this set. I also liked the fact that it was all complete and I didn’t have to wait for the next book in the series. Anyways, here is my review:

Through the help of the fae, Magick has been restored on Earth. But it is not enough to keep the planet alive. With its destruction looming ahead, the Queen of the fae sends her daughter, Princess Tulupea to mate with a human boy named Michael, as it has been foretold that this will save the planet. At a time when humans and fae fight against each other, it is up to Michael and Tulupea to save their worlds, all the while falling in love with each other.

Unfortunately, I could not make myself finish this trilogy. What I had anticipated as teen fiction turned out to be far more juvenile. The language, dialogue, and characters are immature to the point where I was cringing with every word I read. The story was obvious, with nothing new to add. The main character is by far the most annoying protagonist I have ever read about; all she did was complain and act spoiled. I just couldn’t take this novel seriously, especially when the author began talking about DNA splicing. All in all, this novel failed on many levels for me, and I would recommend this to pre-teen or very young teens.

Happy reading ~